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Carpet Sweepers – a bit of History


Mechanical sweepers were the next improvement in floor cleaning after the broom and dust pan.  Sweeping your floor the old-fashioned way would move dirt around the floor to corral it so it could be swept into the pan, doing a lovely job of stirring up dust as you did it!  The carpet sweeper would capture and store the dust in a tray concealed inside its body, at least in theory.  The Union Sweeper, patented in 1858, used wheels on one side of its body to turn a brush roller that would, supposedly grap dirt off the floor and propel it into the bin.

The Hatlinger Another type of mechanical cleaner was called the sweeping box.  There were no wheels; the elongated sides of the dust collection box acted as sled runners so it could glide along the floor.  It had a hand crank (and belt) to turn a small pulley connected to the brush at the bottom of the machine.  There were several similar designs. The Hatlinger “Champion”  (see the picture left) is an early sweeping box from 1873.

The third design, also called a carpet sweeper, evolved and is
still around today! It had two sets of wheels under the sweeper; these came into contact with the brush roller and turned it by friction as the sweeper was pushed back and forth across the floor.  Sound familiar? It was light in weight and easy to use, but the sweeper worked best on hard surfaces; only surface litter could be collected from short pile carpeting; the set in dirt was not affected! The Bissell Co. (Now where have we heard that name before?) has promoted this type of sweeper since the late 1800’s and continues to sell it in today’s market. 


                                       Bissell Crystal Sweeper


The Bissell Crystal Sweeperwas used by salespeople to demonstrate the cleaning action of the brush. The glass top gives a clear view of the black and white bristles.  Their colors easily allow the viewer to see the dirt that is picked up.  You can see the Bissell logo is actually etched into the beveled glass cover.

 Mechanical carpet sweepers evolved further when the element of suction was introduced into their design.  The Combination Sweeper or Vacuum Sweeper had an extra set of wheels added to the rear of the body to power two (or three) bellows, which, in turn, pulled air in through a nozzle that was mounted in front.  The original wheels on either side of the unit still rotated the brush as the machine was propelled back and forth acoss the floor.  It apparently worked best when it was pushed quicky back and forth, but there was never sufficient suction or power to do a thorough cleaning job.  Another point against it was the increased weight and bulk introduced with the vacuum motor.

Duntley & Williams sweepers
The Duntley Vacuum Sweeper
Duntley Pneumatic Sweeper Co., ChicagoWilliams Combination Sweeper
Manufactured by Frank W. Williams Co., Chicago

Pictures and information are from http://www.vachunter.com/sweepers.htm.

Yours Truly,